Are Our Standards Getting Too High?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by KinderCowgirl, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jun 13, 2012

    I'm teaching summer school this month and have 2nd Graders. All I have for them is what they didn't pass to put them in Summer School. For some they didn't pass a High Frequency Word test (300 words) but most are there for failing grades. I am starting to assess them myself and was surprised for example a student was there for math but did really well on the double-digit problem solving that I thought would be the issue. When I asked why they got failing grades in math they said because they couldn't do multiplication. :eek:

    Now I know for Kinder, about 3-4 years ago they added more stringent report card objectives like being able to read 30 sight words (that was not tested before). We aren't a common core state, but I'm reading a lot of blogs that talk about how sad it is that things like dramatic play and social skills are not in those new standards for Kinder that almost everyone will use.

    And then there's our new STAAR test this year which has been all over the news here. They made the test much more rigorous-cut the time the kids have to take it in half and then are disappointed in the results the first time it's given. http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/state&id=8695084 We are already hearing how the lower grades are going to have to do more to prepare these kids for this testing.

    I'm all for high expectations in a classroom, but are we getting a little unreasonable?
     
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  3. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    In some respects, I think so. A few years ago, Texas passed the 4 x 4 rule which means that EVERY high school student must take 4 years of English, science, math and social studies. That in and of itself isn't a problem, but then they dictated that the sciences must be biology, chemistry, physics and one other "lab based" science.

    I'm just not sure that EVERY student is capable of taking and understanding physics. And I'm not sure they NEED to take it at this age. When this legislation first passed, a lot of physics teachers talked about teaching "roller coaster" physics to the lower level kids... just introduce them to physics concepts without really getting in to the math behind it. But the STAAR test put an end to that idea.

    I was in a workshop last year sponsored by Marzano Research, and the speaker said that studies show that if you realistically taught all of the curriculum k-12 it would take 22 years to cover. :(
     
  4. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Perhaps at the elementary level you could argue about the standards getting too high (although I honestly think that the reverse is the problem in most cases), but at the high school level I think we're not pushing kids in the right places. Not everyone needs 4 years of math, but perhaps students who are interested in working with their hands could take woodshop and build applied math skills there instead of in a traditional setting with a textbook.

    Now that brings in the issue of schools that can't afford to offer anything but the bare bones of a curriculum, but that's another issue.
     
  5. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I went to an all boys, private, college prep high school that was deemed one of the best private schools in California.

    The only course that was required all four years was English. The highest math required was Algebra II, the highest science was chemistry.
     
  6. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I think high expectations is a good thing, but within reason too. We shouldn't expect our students to do things that are not appropriate for their age. We also try to shove information into our kids without taking time to really develop the bigger ideas and concepts. I think our kids could meet the higher expectations if we could reduce all the "stuff" and have more time for deeper, more meaningful learning experiences.
     
  7. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I am also teaching summer school and the group of students I have is a wide variety. Some students are there because they absolutely need to be others are there because their parents were able to get scholarships for it and just figured it was a free few hours out of the house. The skills we are working on not everyone needs, but I figure extra practice never hurt. Then there are some students that just don't care and really don't want to be there. I am not going to push them and fight with them if they are going to act that way. Its only a few hours each day, it will fly by and then be over.
    As for expectations of students, I don't necessarily think our expectations of students is too high, how we assess them seems to be a little ridiculous. But our expectations of teachers is just out the window.
     
  8. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Speaking for 7th grade in California, absolutely not. Kids can essentially wake up in the morning and do just fine with the material.
     
  9. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    The amount of material we must cover is absurd, but the depth possible is such that student understanding of each topic is shallow.

    I think that we are expecting mediocrity at the high school level. It is increasingly difficult to get students to produce meaningful work.
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    At the elementary level, I would say in my experience the standards are absolutely too high- so high that the students are actually learning less than ever before b/c they're actually understanding so little, if that makes sense. They're covering a ton of topics and at at more advanced level than before, but they don't have time to slow down and make sure the students actually understand the topics in the first place. I know it's gotten especially bad with the new "rigorous" buzz word. My previous district created their own "rigorous" curriculum and the stuff they were asking the kids to do was absurd. We literally had kids trying to learn algebra in kindergarten. One first grade test that I saw (from the district required "rigorous curriculum"- they published the tests and made all teachers use them), the students were asked to read four opinion based articles about whether schools should allow soda or not, and then write a 3 paragraph essay response picking a side and citing at least 6 facts from the articles- in FIRST grade!
     
  11. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 14, 2012

    I agree. My sixth graders often come with no retention of anything because we are pushing so much at them in the early years. It's almost like they need everything that is important retaught. Well, that is impossible when they are pushing us to teach so much in sixth grade.

    I think that the common core standards are helping this a bit in my district because it is narrowing what we teach at each level. But these are much deeper standards, so we will see how students adjust.
     
  12. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I have been shocked at how ignorant my seniors are of BASIC geography. They struggle with latitude and longitude and I discovered that many can't locate Australia on a globe or map! Seriously--a lab required them to find the Australian plate and they couldn't do it. Some also struggled with placing the African Plate and Eurasian plate. It never occurred to me this would be such am issue.

    Next year, I'm planning to tightly integrate geography I to my curriculum.
     
  13. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I really think that that's the issue. Too much is trying to be crammed into our kids so that they cannot develop a solid, deep level understanding of anything. I don't have a problem with the standards, I don't think they are too high, but I think the emphasis on all the stuff is where the problem is.
     
  14. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jun 14, 2012

    What an exciting opportunity to do Learning Across the Curriculum with you Social Studies counterparts!
     
  15. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Wait, am I reading this right? 2nd graders being retained for not knowing multiplication?? That's madness!
     
  16. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I will personally accept the blame on this one. I find teaching "spot the shape" geography to be utterly archaic and do not do so in my World History course.

    Back onto the main topic, I don't think asking kids to learn a bunch of random stuff with no depth is high standards. If the question was "Are our expecatations of what a kid can retain in a 170 day period too high?" I would say yes. Standards though? Not at all.
     
  17. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Being able to locate a continent on the map is archaic?

    If I can't teach them about the Ring of Fire by telling them about Japan because they don't know where Japan is, I think that is a problem.

    And again, when teaching mountain building using the Himalayas as an example of a convergent boundary, having to stop and teach them where India is seems absurd.

    Am I wrong in thinking that a general knowledge of basic geography is a necessary component of being a literate member of society?
     
  18. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    Jun 14, 2012

    I was thinking the same thing....we don't teach it until 3rd grade. Somethings a miss for sure.
     
  19. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Aaah, I thought I agreed with this until our "implementation" inservice yesterday and the day before. Basically, we were told that even when the CC doesn't mention a skill (example: Write a legible sentence.... or know the difference between the different literature genres), we are responsible for covering the material, and that basically, the CC is the minimum we are to teach. In addition, there are no standards for Science/Health/SS in the CC, and we are being told that we are to cover it all during ELA, but we are still responsible for our state-mandated comprehensive curriculum, and although we are not "officially" teaching Sc/H/SS, we still have to assess grades! My head is spinning, I mean, the content areas are pretty much a joke in first grade anyway - I like the idea of covering it more through reading (what is the main focus of first grade anyway??), but really, people, get a brain!
     
  20. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    NO, you are absolutely right, but our wonderful legislators have made US kiddos the least knowledgeable about geography, heck, about all the Social Studies, in the world. Most can't even find Washington DC on the map. Sad.
     
  21. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Our 2nd grade teachers begin teaching multiplication in 2nd grade... and cursive (also used to be reserved for 3rd). But I've never heard of a student being retained because of it.
     
  22. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We started multiplication in 1st. Students were expected to know their times tables and division facts by the end of 2nd.
     
  23. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Absolutely not. I had a friend once who was going to go to Germany and wanted to know if she could just run over to Japan while she was there!? I don't like to judge people but I definitely thought she should have known better.

    Waterfall-the problem there is that they are just learning place value in 1st (unless that falls down to Kinder too, which would make me really mad!) and aren't really given the time to master that before being expected then to multiply? That's just ridiculous to me.
     
  24. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    On elementary high-stakes assessments, I think yes. If you read the standards they seem loose enough to be manageable, but then when you look at the tests (and at the kids while taking the tests!) that are supposed to measure them, they're really tricky sometimes.
     
  25. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I try to tell our admins this every year. It's like they believe introducing something sooner will make them learn it faster and actually the opposite is true. If they don't have a good foundation, especially when you are talking about math, they won't have any kind of true understanding of anything.
     
  26. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    This has GOT to be facetious! .....right?
     
  27. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    !!!!!!!!!!!
     
  28. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I had my times tables by the end of 2nd grade down, but I know not every student is capable of doing it. It pains me when they don't have them by the end of 4th grade memorized.
     
  29. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    One of our special ed supervisors has told me horror stories of high school students who can't subtract, much less do multiplication. We are being told to focus more on numeracy and concrete-to-abstract number abilities (greater than/less than, this is what 10 looks like, etc) and the basic facts in first grade.
     
  30. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    This, but also I think it's not just about how long you work on foundations but also there must be some developmental readiness threshold for different skills. I'm not expert enough to know what it is but I am quite sure that the people setting the standards don't know either and don't seem to care. Particularly when it comes to higher-order skills like metacognition and figuring things out themselves through explorations and such (I talk things like regrouping in math, OK, not explorations of plant types in science) - I'm all for these skills, I think they're essential, but I don't think it's reasonable to expect primary grade students to be there. Maybe some gifted ones but it's not fair to impose it on everyone. My students' final exam in seventh grade history looked more like a college research project - the reading level and information content was similar to what I'd learned in seventh grade, but the task was very independence-driven, something like drawing conclusions based on primary sources (that they'd never seen before) and presenting it in a well-supported essay. How are they supposed to be drawing conclusions when they have no background of information that's been given to them? We're supposed to be developing these kinds of skills in lower grades too, but I personally don't expect kids to come up with reasonable, strong responses when throughout their whole schooling they've been asked to use their own creativity and only been directly given knowledge in small doses.

    Whoa, I should get off my soapbox, think this through in a more organized way at a more civilized hour, and maybe write my own 600-word blog post about it instead of going off on a tangent here. All I really wanted to say was that standards have to be not just ambitious, but in tune with natural cognitive development, not skipping stages or pushing ahead
     
  31. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Nope...true story. I was teaching sped at that school, so my poor students were just even farther behind. Many of the gen ed kids couldn't meet the ridiculously high standards, so of course kids who were already struggling didn't even have a chance. I was also not allowed to modify anything for my sped students.
     
  32. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm not sure that our standards are getting too high, merely too broad.

    Speaking mostly as a parent, it seems that we don't allow enough time for our kids to learn one concept before we rush on to the next. There simply doesn't seem to be enough time to internalize the material, to play with it and find the joy in it, because before we know it we need to be on to the next topic, and the next and the next.

    Our kids are getting a smattering of information about a million topics, but are actually learning very few.
     
  33. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Just to give you an example-I teach Kinder (obviously). Most of my kids do not attend Pre-K. They enter school maybe knowing some letters/sounds, but that's it. Many can't count past 10. In 180 days (if they show up every day)-I am supposed to take them from that to reading 30 wpm fluently and to addition/subtraction in math-along with all the other concepts we teach in math like fractions, 3-D shapes, measuring, skip counting, etc. It's a lot to cover in one year and expect them to really retain it in any way.

    I read an article once that said 25 years ago, 20% of kids were reading entering 1st Grade. Now 100% is expected to be-but what else has changed to warrant that change in expectation? I feel the same way about expecting them to know multiplication in 2nd grade-why push those skills down except with the hope that if they learn it sooner it will make them learn it better. I think it's damaging because you are creating these kids that feel like failures, even though mentally it's a process they would never be able to understand because of how quickly we are teaching it.
     
  34. MATgrad

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    I've taught mod-to-severe for the past couple of years now. They take an alternate assessment. The student that doesn't know their name is expected to be able to identify main characters, patterns and counting so yes I think that those standards have gotten too high. In the past if they didn't do well on it, it really didn't have much bearing. However now those scores count for school grade and my evaluation. It's a different game now and for those munchkins a bad one to be put into.
     
  35. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Exactly. We teach many more topics in high school earth science than are taught in a year long college sequence. The worst part of this is having to race over the fun stuff like volcanoes and fossils. We don't even have room to talk about dinosaurs. This year, we had one week (3 90 minute periods) to cover all of plate tectonics. This includes sea floor spreading, earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain building. This is partly because I had to do so much lack-of-attendance remediation, but also just the nature of our required pacing guide.

    We are doing kids a huge disservice. If they learn some topics really well, to a level that is enjoyable (almost anything becomes a lot more fun the more you know about it) and that promotes critical thinking, they have the tools to go study other topics on their own later in life. As it is, we are barely equipping them to be able to understand a science article on CNN.
     
  36. onestepcloser

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    At the secondary level, at least where I work, we are definitely not. I feel the opposite - there is now zero accountability for students where I work. We are required to accept late work at any time (literally months after it's been graded and returned), admin wants to bump marks significantly, and admin just wants students pushed through. I think it's resulting in a large number of students who 1) have no sense of responsibility or accountability and 2) are moving forward even though they shouldn't be, ruining the integrity of the course.
     
  37. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Yep!

    As someone who loves Earth science, this makes me sad.

    And yet, I see this as well. Crazy combination.
     
  38. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    I have plenty of high school students who don't know their multiplication table, how to multiply, or divide. I had a bunch of them tell me this year and continue to tell me that two divided by four is two. I don't think the standards are high but teachers are required to cover too much so there isn't enough time to go into depth. Rather than understand the material, they are just memorizing a bunch of facts and procedures like this is how I multiply but I have no idea what it means.
     
  39. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

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    I have high school students who can't read "big" numbers (i.e.: 157,000). :confused:
     
  40. Croissant

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    It's not the quality of standards that is too high, it's the quantity. Is it better to know a little about a lot or a lot about a little?

    As others have said, we can't give the kids the time they need to master new skills.

    Additionally, we are expected to teach more rigorous standards, but we are not permitted to increase the rigor of our classroom. I have to present more difficult concepts to Johnny, but if Johnny isn't ready for those more difficult concepts, I have to almost perform a miracle to retain him so that he has another chance. Forget retaining him, even giving a failing grade on the assignment or test that covers that concept. Why did he fail? Give him extra credit opportunities, let him do corrections, give the test again. What if he never turns in his homework? I can't monitor his mastery of these high standards, so I basically have to give him the benefit of the doubt because there's nothing I can do to teach him to bring his homework. Sometimes I feel I'm forced to set these kids up for failure because I'm expected to raise my academic standards whie lowering my social (for lack of a better word) standards. :2cents:
     
  41. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

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    Jul 4, 2012

    Really?!? I'll be the first to admit that I'm AWFUL when it comes to geography, but even I would know better than to say something as absurd as this. Please tell me she was joking?? Please....
     

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